Viewing page 1 of 8 pages. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NextGigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard
July 19, 2013 by Lawrence Lee
LGA1155 mini-ITX Motherboard
The goal was a simple one. Build a build a small, stable, cool and quiet Windows desktop for a family member. It didn't have to be flashy or fancy, it just had to do its job and not be noticed. Check email, surf the web, play music and HD video, and not bog down to a crawl when playing mindless Flash based games. That last point was absolutely vital I was told.
Combing through the current landscape of computer hardware, I settled on a
relatively low priced Intel build with integrated graphics. While AMD recent
APUs have made good strides, its true strengths discrete-class graphics
and affordable quad core processing simply weren't needed. What I required
was snappy single-threaded operation and high energy efficiency to make it easy
to cool quietly in a compact enclosure.
The selection of AMD mini-ITX motherboards was also much smaller. I didn't
want to settle on a board just because it was the best choice of three. If you
ask me for just one piece of advice when it comes to DIY PCs, it would be that
the motherboard is the most important component. It defines what you can add
to it and what it's capable of the system's identity is tied to the mainboard.
And frankly, it's a pain to replace, so get it right the first time so hopefully
you'll never have to.
I found several sub-$100 LGA1155 mini-ITX models during my search but they
all were based on the old H61 chipset. I don't prescribe to the notion that
everything new is automatically better but these budget boards lacked what I
consider basic modern features, namely SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0. I didn't really
need either, but I wanted some degree of future-proofing or whatever you want
to call it even if it is less than a year. If the time came for the machine
to be repurposed for some other use, I wanted some degree of versatility.
For a bit more money, a Gigabyte caught my attention, the GA-H77N-WIFI. It seemed almost too good to be true. A series 7 board, it had everything I wanted and might ever want. SATA 6 Gbps, USB 3.0, gigabit ethernet, HDMI, S/PDIF, and even WiFi and Bluetooth. The few reviews I found were favorable and it was on sale at NCIX for about CDN$100. A few mouse-clicks and keyboard strokes and a day later, it was ready for pickup along with a compatible 55W dual core Ivy Bridge processor.
When Intel's series 7 motherboards launched in anticipation of Ivy Bridge,
the H77 chipset took the same role as its predecessor, H67, a budget mainstream
model with all the basic necessities for most users. Compared to the top of
the line Z77 chipset, H77 is missing a couple of advanced features, though arguably
they aren't all that useful on a mini-ITX model.
The big one is CPU overclocking via multiplier, the only way to achieve a good
overclock with a modern Intel chip. Without it, one must resort to core frequency
adjustment, which results in instability beyond a few MHz. A "Z" series
board is also required for Lucid's Virtu application to access features of the
integrated graphics chip, namely Intel's Quick Sync video transcoding engine
while using a discrete graphics card. Finally, with H77, the CPU's PCI-E lanes
cannot be split up into multiple slots (e.g. 8x/8x), an irrelevant omission
for the mini-ITX form factor with its single expansion slot.
Support for Intel® Core i7 processors/Intel® Core i5 processors/Intel® Core i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package
L3 cache varies with CPU
(Some Intel® Core processors require a graphic card, please refer "CPU support List" for more information.)
||Intel® H77 Express Chipset
||2 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 16 GB of system memory
* Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.
Dual channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2200(OC)/1600/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
* To support DDR3 1600 MHz, you must install an Intel 22nm (Ivy Bridge) CPU.
Support for non-ECC memory modules
Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)
||Integrated Graphics Processor:
1 x DVI-I port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
2 x HDMI ports, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
||Realtek ALC892 codec
High Definition Audio
Support for S/PDIF Out
||2 x Realtek GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
|Wireless Communication module
||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Supports Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR
||1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
* Whether PCI Express 3.0 is supported depends on CPU and graphics card compatibility.
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2/3) supporting up to 2 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.
Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
|Internal I/O Connectors
||1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x serial port header
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x CPU fan header
1 x system fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
|Back Panel Connectors
||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
2 x HDMI ports
2 x antenna connectors
1 x DVI-I port
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 x RJ-45 ports
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
||iTE I/O Controller Chip
||System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System fan speed detection
CPU fan speed control
* Whether the CPU fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU cooler you install.
||2 x 64 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
Support for DualBIOS
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
||Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress Install
Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
Support for Auto Green
Support for ON/OFF Charge
Support for Q-Share
Support for EZ Setup
Support for Intel Wireless Display (Intel WiDi)
Exclusive Bluetooth 4.0/WiFi module
||Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Intel® Rapid Start Technology
Intel® Smart Connect Technology
Intel® Smart Response Technology
||Support for Microsoft® Windows 8/7/XP
||Mini-ITX Form Factor; 17.0cm x 17.0cm
||Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP SP1/SP2. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.
Being a mini-ITX motherboard, it has some limitations compared to the ATX enthusiast
boards I am used to working with. Present are four SATA ports (two of which
are 3 Gbps), two DIMM slots, and two USB 3.0 connectors at the back, though
an internal header is provided. As H77 is a mainstream/budget chipset, most
users will end up using integrated graphics which the H77N-WIFI supports via
one DVI-I and dual HDMI ports. This setup lacks a DisplayPort, which is required
for Ivy Bridge's triple display support.
The real interesting thing about this board are the connectivity options. It's equipped with a pair of Realtek gigabit ethernet connectors which some savvy users with the right hardware use to team a pair of cable/DSL modems to make a single super high speed internet connection out of two cable/DSL lines. A second NIC can also be useful if the PC is to be used as a router/firewall and for other advanced server functions. A regular Joe has no need of this but WiFi and Bluetooth is certainly pertinent. The board has a half-size mini PCI-E slot filled with a WiFi 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 adapter. Few mini-ITX boards have wireless connectivity, let alone one at this price point.
Budget boards aren't loaded with extras and the H77N-WIFI comes with almost
the bare minimum. Included is a driver/utility disc tucked inside a manual,
I/O shield, two SATA cables, and a pair of external WiFi antennae. The antennae
are made of plastic and rubber and have one meter long cables. They're not particularly
hefty and don't have magnets on them like the ASUS antennae so it's easy to
knock them over.
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